Taking advantage of the Game Developers Conference, Microsoft has announced a new dev kit for the Xbox 360, as well as new tools and a competition aimed at hobbyist and independent game makers.
The new dev kit, which comes in the sexy blue seen in the pictures, comes with additional debugging memory. This comes hot on the heels of Sony's announcement of its own new dev kit
Microsoft also stated that it will release new updates to its free XNA tools. Microsoft explains the new features as follows: "Community Games developers will be able to include customized Avatars, which have quickly become one of the most popular features on Xbox LIVE, and professional Xbox LIVE Arcade developers will be able to release game add-ons like episodic content and include LIVE Party functionality making playing games a social experience by letting gamers seamlessly play and chat with their friends online."
No hard date was given for the updates. Microsoft said that they will be available this Spring.
Also announced for XNA users was this year's Dream- Build-Play competition. As it has for the last two years, it gives bedroom coders the chance to win cash prizes and an Xbox LIVE Arcade publishing contract. The competition opens on April 6th, while the winners will be announced in the Autumn.
“The level of innovation and the number of submissions we receive each year to Dream-Build-Play has increased exponentially because the development community is becoming increasingly familiar with the XNA Game Studio”, XNA general manager, Boyd Multerer, uttered. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what developers are able to create with the latest LIVE features and updated tools at their disposal.”